Dick Harmon: Understanding the whys of the 'Free Jimmer' movement
The FreeJimmer movement.
It’s a buzzword found among followers of Jimmer Fredette. You find it on social media and the Internet and it’s all over Twitter with the hashtag #freejimmer.
Well, take a gander at the Sacramento Kings. Anyone on that roster would want to escape.
Watching the Kings is a frustrating experience. Like standing in line at the DMV or raking leaves in a tornado.
And it’s not all because coach Keith Smart is choosing not to insert Fredette into games. Sacramento struggles on offense, but they can’t use Jimmer. A shooter would get in the way.
It’s simply the mode of operation of this club. The Kings are 27th in the league in scoring and rank 30th in assists. They have no need for offense, right?
It’s like watching the steel ball in a pinball machine bounce around the walls and then harmlessly drop into the discard bin.
It’s like a video game on an old Atari.
You see Kings players come down the court hunting for shots with blinders on. They have no teammates; assists are scarce; passes rare, set plays are a foreign exercise. It’s every man for himself — one man against five.
You see guys dribble until they find a crack in the defense. It doesn’t matter if it’s a foot or two or just inches of daylight. The guy attacks it like Lewis and Clark after a beaver pelt and be damned if there’s an open teammate on the wing. When the ball caroms off the rim in what amounts to a wasted possession, it’s a race to play defense so it can start all over again.
Watching the Kings on offense, you’d swear they’ve all bought into the Mayan calendar’s claim that the world ends in a month. You are convinced their contracts have clauses that say the more minutes each player can possess the ball, the greater the bonus.
If you like watching athletes put their head down, dribble into a crowd and cast up a leaping, off-balance shot in heavy traffic, this is your buffet.
If you enjoy watching one-on-five action where the dribbler attacks the key while two or three wide-open teammates watch with their hands on their hips, this is your huckleberry.
The other night, I saw point guard Isaiah Thomas dribble past the half-court line and hand off the ball to a teammate standing to his left. He planted the ball from hand to lent-laden belly button and the receiver was so stunned he never lifted his hands to take possession. The ball dropped to the floor, rolled two or three feet where an opponent grabbed it for a fast-break put down. It was a stunning but symbolic play that underscores the devalued expectation of executing a productive pass by the Kings.
The Kings are a basketball team that lives up to its name. The king has all the power, rights, goods, services and royal blood, and nobody else does. And there are a dozen kings.
Coach Smart told me last season in Sacramento he had a lot of alpha dogs on his team that have to mark their territory. He was right. They’ve drowned the fireplug.
Now, I don’t know if Jimmer Fredette will ever become an NBA player, one that you see getting regular minutes on a regular basis, a guy that can play big-league defense and become a master of the pick-and-roll. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. If he doesn’t, that’s a topic for another day.
But his fit on this team, well, anybody’s fit on this team, is a mystery. It’s like roller derby in Tahiti.
One Sacramento media guy says Fredette is obviously the Kings’ best option at point guard — another says he isn’t even the fifth best guard on the squad.
But on this team, anybody who isn’t hogging the ball all the time seemingly has no role in the program. Wide-open, talented shooters standing on the wings watching a penetrating mate are ignored by rim-seeking plungers.
It’s a case of the running dead.
So, this past week, when my satellite provider gave me free access to NBA games and I tuned in to not see Jimmer, it was frustrating to watch Sacramento play the game of basketball. With or without Jimmer on the floor, it was a counterproductive waste of time.
I felt like I was watching sixth-graders with tunnel vision.
It was then I fully understood the movement by a growing group of Kings or Fredette fans and why their slogan is #Freejimmer.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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